Organizing and Spring Cleaning Your Barn During COVID-19

Each year about this time, we like to share a new barn spring cleaning blog post. This year though, things are a bit different, and the checklist of tasks that we typically recommend may not be entirely advisable.

Cleaning out your old riding clothes and taking them to your local tack shop to consign? Not an option during stay at home orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting your horses’ annual Coggins test or having their teeth checked? If it’s not an emergency, it may be best to wait another month or two.

However, with many of us finding ourselves with a bit more time on our hands as we stay safe at home and at our barns, there’s perhaps no better time for getting organized and doing some deep cleaning.

Here are our suggestions and ideas for maximizing this time and handling this year’s barn spring cleaning!

In the Barn  

If you own or manage your farm, live onsite, or are still able to safely visit while practicing social distancing, here are a few tasks to tackle.

– Scrub and disinfect all surfaces, particularly those that are frequently touched. – Now is the time to continually sanitize and clean common surfaces such as stall doors, doorknobs, light switches, sink faucets, gates, and crossties.

– Clean out gutters and downspouts. – Clear out any leaves or build-up that may have accumulated over the fall and winter months.

– Clean your fans and check the wiring. – If you live in a cooler climate, your fans have likely been packed away for the winter. Now is a good time to get them out of storage, clean them, and ensure that all is in working order. ProEquineGrooms suggests using a leave blower to blow any dust and debris out of the fan.

– Inspect your pastures. – Walk the perimeter of all pastures to check the fencing and locate any weak or broken spots. Thoroughly clean any run-in sheds, and walk your fields and fill in any holes.

– Send blankets out for cleaning and repair.By the end of the winter, it’s likely that your horse’s sheets and blankets are in need of a deep cleaning! There are many services available that allow you to ship your blankets to them for repair, and some local services, like Horse Duds & Suds in New Jersey, offer free pickup and delivery from your farm (while maintaining safe distancing!). If you’d rather clean or fix minor repairs yourself, check out this blanket care kit from Schneiders.

– Thoroughly clean your tack. – When was the last time you took your bridle completely apart? Or scrubbed your stirrup irons with a toothbrush? Now is the time to give everything a really thorough cleaning and conditioning.

– Scrub your brushes. – As with your tack, now is the time to really scrub your brushes, and, if you haven’t already, to make it a habit of cleaning them routinely. We shared steps and tips for cleaning brushes here.

– Check your horses’ medicine cabinets and restock your vet kits. – Go through any medicines and ensure that none of them are expired, and, if they are looking into getting them replaced or refilled if needed. Review your horses’ first aid kit (that you hopefully have on hand!) and make sure it’s well-stocked and any previously used items have been replenished. Not sure what should be included in your first aid kit? Here are a few of our suggestions.

While You’re at Home

– Go through your closet. – By cleaning out and organizing your riding clothes, you could turn your breeches that no longer fit (because they’re too big, and you lost weight, obviously! 😉), into cash toward a new pair. While supporting your local consignment tack shop isn’t presently an option, there are lots of ways to sell your used riding apparel online, like the Grazers app.

– Eliminate paper clutter and organize your horses’ records. – If you currently store your horses’ medical records, farrier invoices, and barn paperwork in binders, folders, or in a giant stack on your desk, now is a great time to consider consolidating them and going digital! With BarnManager, you can snap photos of your records to easily add them to each horse’s profile, and you can sync each profile to the horse’s US Equestrian records to easily pull in other data. Setup a live demo meeting to see how it works, here.

– Order those horse show photos you’ve been meaning to hang in your house. This is also a great way to support equine photographers during this time. Check out a few other suggested ways to support fellow equestrians throughout COVID-19 here.

– Make your own horse treats. – This may not help with cleaning or organizing, but it will win you brownie points with your horse and provide you with a fun activity for the time at home! Check out a few of our treat recipe ideas here. 

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Five Ways to Support Your Fellow Equestrians During COVID-19

From competitions being canceled further into the spring to many boarding barns now closing their doors to customers, the non-health-related effects of the global coronavirus pandemic continue to increase.

For many within our equestrian industry, that means the loss of their livelihood, and for almost all of us, it means significant changes to our daily lives and less time spent in the saddle or enjoying our horses. While it’s important to remain physically distant from one another, now is a time to figuratively come together as a community.

Here are just five ways that you can support your fellow equestrians during this time.

1. Make purchases from equestrian professionals. – Your trainer has likely had to limit or entirely cancel teaching lessons or clinics; your favorite horse show photographer no longer has spring events to shoot, and your braider is temporarily out of a job (and that’s to name just three of the many types of equestrian professionals directly impacted by COVID-19). 

If you are financially able, now is a great time to pre-purchase training or lesson packages or gift certificates to gift a friend or family member with riding lessons. If your trainer or other professionals offer digital seminars, take advantage of them as you’re able. This not only supports their businesses, but it allows you to continue to learn and grow during this down time.

Have you been considering ordering prints or a large canvas of your favorite show photos? Now is the perfect time to place that order and support horse show photographers!

2. Give what you can to help those in need. – The cancellation of horse shows means a lack of work for the support staff that make them possible: the ring crew, grooms, ingate guys, stewards, judges, security, office staff, and more. We know many reading this likely have been financially affected by COVID-19 as well, but for those who are able, giving what you can to those out of work can go a long way. Check out the Show Jumping Relief Fund for one way to give.

3. Be understanding that many may struggle to afford their horses during this time – and don’t be afraid to seek help if you are among them. – Many people are struggling to figure out how to cover their own living expenses, let alone those of their horses.

4. Check in on each other and encourage group “hang outs.”   – The current circumstances can be stressful, and the reduced social interaction can be tough for anyone’s mental health. Check in on your friends and barn mates and come up with new ways to “get together.” Try group FaceTime calls or perhaps pick a horse book (fiction or non-fiction) and start your own virtual book club. Need some motivation and encouragement to workout? Why not do video workouts together virtually with your barn mates?

5. Stay home.  – One of the most important things that you can do for the benefit of not only the equestrian community, but the country as a whole, is to adhere to the advised social distancing guidelines. The sooner we can stop the spread of COVID-19, the sooner we can return to the horses that we love!

Wishing everyone health and safety during this time!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Handling Social Distancing and Horses: How Equestrians Can Safely Make the Most of It

This time of social distancing and quarantine can feel scary, confusing, and strange – but it’s also important to adhere to these measures in order to keep yourself and those that you love and care about safe and healthy.

By self-quarantining, we are able to help protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus, and it allows us to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases. However, self-quarantining can also lead to a far lesser problem: boredom. And a serious one for many equestrians facing cancelled shows, events, and lessons: financial loss.

In order to help combat both of these, we’ve compiled a list of five ways to help you safely make the most of this time.

1. Spend quality time with your horse(s). – If you keep your horse at home or if your boarding facility is still allowing visitors, take advantage of the extra time to ride, get outside in the sunshine, love on, groom, and care for your horse.

There is currently no evidence that horses can spread or contract CO-VID19, which Palm Beach Equine Clinic explains further in this blog post.

2. Implement new cleaning and social distancing protocols at the barn in order to allow operations to safely continue. – While we do advise spending as much time with your horse as possible during this time, we also recommend only doing it safely. Now isn’t the time to organize a trail ride with 10 of your barn friends or to plan a clinic since your spring horse show was cancelled. Instead, whether you’re a barn owner, boarder, or lesson student, it’s important to implement or follow some important new protocols.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Adhere to the CDC’s recommended six to nine feet of social distancing between you and others. That means limiting riding close together and not stopping to chat closely in the tack room or barn aisle. For barn owners or trainers continuing to provide lessons, Tara Swersie from Event Clinics recommends scheduling 15-minute blocks between lessons to help limit the number of people present at any time.
  • Along the same vein, group lessons should be limited to no more than four people – and possibly fewer depending on the size of the ring.
  • Clean and sanitize! Wherever you can, try to greatly reduce the number of shared items or surfaces such as whiteboard markers, pitchforks, and brooms. For places where it’s more difficult to reduce common contact, such as door knobs, crossties, light switches, or stall doors, incorporate frequent sanitization of these surfaces into your daily routine.

3. Try a new workout. – While going to the public gym isn’t advised (and currently in most areas isn’t allowed), there’s no reason not to work on your fitness during this time. Many fitness trainers and programs are currently offering free or greatly discounted online workouts, and YouTube workouts – like this Yoga For Equestrians routine with Yoga With Adriene – are always a great option.

If yoga is your thing (or if you’d like to try to make it your thing during self-quarantine), Yoga With Adriene has a great, free 30-day program, and CorePower is offering free yoga on demand.

If yoga isn’t your thing, Les Mills is also offering a 30-day free trial of all workouts on demand, like the program’s popular Body Pump class.

Here are a few easy-to-try-at-home CrossFit workout ideas, and the Fit Equestrian has programs specifically tailored to riders available for purchase here. The US Equestrian Learning Center even has a few workout videos!

4. Expand your equestrian knowledge. – While you may not be horse showing or riding with friends for a bit, now is a great time to expand your equestrian knowledge. Check out USEF Network to watch clinics and learn from experts for free, and go to the US Equestrian Learning Center for topics covering everything from horse care and breeding to riding a winning jump-off with Laura Kraut.

Order a new equestrian book to learn more about the sport, like the USET Foundation’s Riding for the Team, or about horsemanship and riding, like Anne Kursinski’s Riding and Jumping Clinic or Helen Crabtree’s Saddle Seat Equitation. Check out this great reading list, compiled by eventer Jim Wofford.

5. Tackle tasks that you’ve been avoiding. – Been putting off cleaning out that storage area or sorting through your old tack? Or maybe you have old show clothes to list for sale online? Now is the time to tackle these projects! For more ideas of these sorts of tasks and things to do during quarantine, check out My Equestrian Style’s list here.

Stay safe!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Equine Coronavirus Vs. COVID-19: Two Distinctly Different Diseases

This Notice was originally posted by Palm Beach Equine Clinic

The recent spread of the novel coronavirus has raised serious concerns as the status continues to evolve. As equine veterinarians, Palm Beach Equine Clinic would like to address the questions and concern raised by horse owners regarding the potential impact of this disease on the equine industry.

Coronaviruses include a large group of RNA viruses that cause respiratory and enteric symptoms, and have been reported in domestic and wild animals. Equine Enteric Coronavirus and COVID-19 are both coronaviruses, however, they are distinctly different viruses.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infectious disease experts, and multiple international and national human and animal health organizations have stated that at this time there is NO EVIDENCE to indicate that horses could contract COVID-19 or that horses would be able to spread the disease to other animals or humans. Equine enteric coronavirus and COVID-19 are NOT the same strain, and there is no indication that either are transmissible between species.

Therefore, it is important to concentrate on the health of our equestrians by being precautious and following recommendations from public health officials. Palm Beach Equine Clinic will continue to make every effort to stay informed on the developments with COVID-19, and will continue to provide expert veterinary care to all horses regardless of the status of this disease.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is equipped with secure isolation stalls and follows strict biosecurity measures. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography

 

A Profile of Equine Enteric Coronavirus

Equine coronavirus is an enteric, or gastrointestinal, disease in the horse. There is NO EVIDENCE that equine enteric coronavirus poses a threat to humans or other species of animals.

Photo by Jump Media LLC

  • Transmission: Equine coronavirus is transmitted between horses when manure from an infected horse is ingested by another horse (fecal-oral transmission), or if a horse makes oral contact with items or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected manure.
  • Common Clinical Signs: Typically mild signs that may include anorexia, lethargy, fever, colic or diarrhea.
  • Diagnosis: Veterinarians diagnose equine enteric coronavirus by testing fecal samples, and the frequency of this disease is low.
  • Treatment and Prevention: If diagnosed, treatment is supportive care, such as fluid therapy and anti-inflammatories, and establishing good biosecurity precautions of quarantining the infected horse. Keeping facilities as clean as possible by properly disposing of manure will help decrease chances of horses contracting the virus.

INFORMATION FOR THIS NOTICE WAS COMPILED USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES:

Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/veterinary-support/disease-information/equine-enteric-coronavirus

American Association of Equine Practitioners, Equine Disease Communication Center: https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Outside%20Linked%20Documents/DiseaseFactsheet_Coronavirus.pdf

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Six Ways to Reduce Horse Show Stress

It may feel like there have been a number of things to stress about recently, but your horse show experience shouldn’t have to be one of them!

The more relaxed you are able to be while competing, the more likely you are to be successful (and to enjoy the horse show). With that in mind, here are six tips to practice to help prevent horse show nerves and anxiety even before they happen!

1) Get prepared long in advance  It’s more than making packing lists and practicing your braiding skills, it’s about going to schooling shows, getting out to ride in a clinic, or exposing your horse in low pressure situations to all of the things he might see at a horse show.

While it’s good to push yourself, it’s also best to only compete at a level that you feel prepared for and comfortable with. Going into the show feeling overwhelmed or extremely unconfident in your ability to jump a certain height or perform certain movements isn’t a good feeling and will greatly increase stress levels. Particularly if horse show anxiety is already something that you struggle with, it may be best to focus on building confidence at a level that you’re more comfortable with.

2) If you’re doing it yourself, have your grooming, braiding, and tack cleaning game down pat – Put in lots of practice at home, and make note of how long it takes you. Then, add a big time cushion when you get to the show so that you’re not rushed.

3) Eat well, sleep well, breathe well – One surefire way to obtain this is to have a regular exercise routine for YOU.  Learn some mediation techniques, some easy breathing exercises, and notice your stress level before it starts to escalate.

4) Have a support system in place– If you don’t like to drive the horse trailer, hire someone to take this stress away. Make sure your trainer can be there to help you warm up. Bring a friend or loved one. They don’t even have to be a horse person, simply having a close friend around to talk to can help calm your nerves.

5) Don’t try and cram it all in – If you think that a few classes over a weekend might be too much, then opt for one or two classes on one day. Most horse shows will let you trailer in for a day. Aim to give yourself time to walk around, watch your friends, and let your horse chill out.

6) Think about the bigger picture –  At the end of the day, one bad round, test, or class, is just a small part of the bigger picture. Maybe you didn’t get a ribbon, but your performance was a marginal improvement from your last show. Perhaps it didn’t go your way at all, but you still have the privilege of riding and competing and trying again another time.

Want more great advice on mastering your show ring mental game? Read here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tips: Avoiding Frostbite on Your Horse

When tiny cells in your horse becomes so bitterly cold that ice begins to develop inside of them, it causes the expansion and rupture of the cells, which is what causes what we best know as frostbite!

Imagine this in a whole region of cells, like in your fingers or your horse’s ear.  These ruptured cells are now dead, which causes the area to have decreased blood flow and swelling and a whole mess of dead tissue. An important note here: this tissue will NOT grow back!

Major problems follow as the dead tissue can leak toxins into your horse and cause gangrene and massive infection, famous for being gross and black and generally dangerous.

Horses are typically susceptible to frostbite on their ears and their penises.  This is usually seen when a horse is sedated with certain types of drugs that relax the muscles that hold the penis in.  Then, the exposure sets in and you can only imagine…

A horse is at most risk in extreme cold, especially when there is no relief from the wind, or your horse is damp or wet.  A horse that is already compromised by being a hard keeper, or a horse without enough forage, or a horse with some medical issue going on is also at risk.  Some toxins found in plants and rancid feeds can cause vasoconstriction, which increases risk.

Fortunately, frostbite in horses is not extremely common and can be prevented by ensuring that your horse has shelter from the wind if it is turned out in extreme cold and that it is able to stay dry, to take in adequate calories, and to forage to generate normal body heat.

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude founded ProEquineGrooms.com as a way to unite grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tips: Three Rules for Decorating the Barn at Holiday Time

It’s beginning to look a lot like…the time to decorate for the holidays! If your barn, or even just your horse’s stall, are on your list of areas to decorate this year, you may want to keep in mind these three rules from Live Gude of ProEquineGrooms.com!

1. Keep holiday decorations out of reach.

Garlands, ornaments, and lights will be utterly delicious and irresistible to some horses.  Arrange any holiday decorations away from the reach of every horse, even the least curious ones.  If you have a particularly clever horse that might use his powers of sorcery and contortion for evil and not good, skip decorating around that guy’s house. The trouble with garland and long stringed things is that they can easily create impactions if eaten.

Also think about the barn cats and dogs. Are they going to be tempted to grab some garland and zip down the barn aisle?

2. Don’t burn down the barn.

Sure, twinkly lights are the best!  However, overworked circuitry and extension cords increase fire risks.  If you absolutely, positively MUST have lights, make sure they are the LED version that won’t generate heat.

3. Don’t use poisonous decorations.

Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are all toxic.  Mistletoe and holly are definitely toxic to horses, dogs, and cats.  Poinsettia is mildly toxic.  You may want to stick to artificial varieties of these things.   Same goes for pine – while the real version is lovely, there is a lot of sap involved.

Happy decorating!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude founded ProEquineGrooms.com as a way to unite grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Could Being a Barn Manager or Groom Affect Your Amateur Status?

Suppose you are a barn manager or groom showing your horse in the Low Adult Jumpers. You consider your riding skill level far from that of a professional, so you have no doubts as to your amateur status – until someone complains.

The person complaining states that you are violating the U.S. Equestrian “amateur rule” and should be considered a professional as they have seen you riding other clients’ horses at the barn where you work and helping to instruct younger riders at horse shows. Is the complainer just trying to stir up trouble? Or do they have a legitimate point? Depending on your specific circumstances, they just may be correct.

Let’s walk through the U.S. Equestrian rule book, rule GR1306 (a.k.a. “the amateur rule”) to understand why.

First, the rule reads:

“3. Permitted activities by Amateur. An Amateur is permitted to do the following:

Accept remuneration for providing service in one’s capacity as a: clinic manager or organizer (so long as they are not performing the activities of instructor or trainer), presenter or panelist at a Federation licensed officials’ clinic, competition manager, competition secretary, judge, steward, technical delegate, course designer, announcer, TV commentator, veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator, breeder, or boarder, or horse transporter.”

While barn manager is not specifically listed among the permitted activities, groom is, and it is a safe assumption that barn management falls into the same “safe” category.

However, there is a caveat. The rule also states: “…a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:

Accepts remuneration AND rides, exercises, drives, shows, trains, assists in training, schools or conducts clinics or seminars.”

Let’s first address the riding of client horses at home. If you are receiving any sort of payment for your riding of these client horses or if you are actively training them, it would be in violation of your amateur status.

The exception would be if you are riding them for fun or with no direct compensation.

Armand Leone of Leone Equestrian Law explains: “If you are not receiving remuneration for exercising horses at the barn, and hacking is an informal arrangement for your enjoyment and not part of your ‘job,’ you may be able to ride barn horses and not be considered professional. Again, it all depends on the context. Activities such as grooming, office paperwork, or barn maintenance work are permissible and do not affect your amateur status.”

In this situation, instructing younger riders is likely where you are more apt to find yourself in violation of the rule.

Leone further explains, “The most important thing to keep in mind is that instructing even the youngest, most beginner riders at your barn or helping to train any of your other barn mates would again render you no longer an amateur. Even something as simple as walking a course at a horse show with a younger rider and providing them with input on how it should be ridden while your trainer is tied up at another ring could put you in violation of the rules. Again, the facts matter. Such a scenario could be fine were you not receiving remuneration from your trainer for this activity, because you are…this sort of assistance to your trainer could be viewed as a violation.”

The bottom line: it is important to be cognizant of your actions and to avoid any sort of training – either of horses or riders – for payment or other compensation!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tips: Winter Grooming for Fuzzy Horses

With unseasonably warm temperatures surrounding our BarnManager home base on the East Coast as we post this, it’s hard to believe that we’re talking about winter, but coats are growing in and the winter months are quickly creeping up!

With the approaching winter, we have two primary concerns when the horse is unclipped: dirt, bacteria, fungi, and moisture trapped on the skin by the coat and cooling out the horse after exercise.

When you have an unclipped coat, you have a great natural barrier to the elements, but you also have a way for skin funk, rashes, infections, rain rot, and unseen cuts and scrapes to invade your horse. Couple that with moisture from sweat, and you are creating a buffet for microscopic creatures to invade. You also have the huge task of cooling out and drying your horse after exercise to avoid skin funk and your horse getting chilled to the bone.

Here’s ProEquineGrooms.com’s Liv Gude’s advice for dealing with both!

Get acquainted with a vacuum for horses.

Use your fingertips – your bare-naked fingertips! You should be feeling your horse everywhere to make sure scabs or unusual skin funk, rashes, or rain rot are not forming.

Use your hands to examine the ribs and make sure that they are not poking out underneath the horse’s coat. Use a weight tape weekly to measure weight changes.

Take the time to hot towel your horse. Hot and damp towels are used to “curry” the horse in small sections at a time. Use a cooler to cover each section as you finish.

Utilize waterless shampoos. Many waterless shampoos are designed to clean spots, not do a whole horse, so read the label carefully. In combination with hot toweling, they can be a super way to bring back that “just washed” look for your horse.

Stay warm, and good luck this winter!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude founded ProEquineGrooms.com as a way to unite grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!